OXFORD, Miss. (MSU Athletics/Ole Miss Athletics) - Trailing by one after three innings, the No. 5 Mississippi State baseball program scored nine runs in the fourth on its way to a 11-5 victory and a Southeastern Conference series sweep of No. 11 Ole Miss at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field on Sunday (May 12).
The series sweep is the third in SEC play this season for the Diamond Dawgs and first SEC sweep on the road since taking all three games against the Rebels during the 2017 season in Oxford. In the history of the series, it is the first time that Mississippi State (42-10, 18-9 SEC) has swept back-to-back three-game series at Ole Miss (32-20, 15-12 SEC).
In 2019, MSU has swept Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss in conference play, with UGA and UM each being ranked at the time of the meetings.
After Ole Miss grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first, Mississippi State tied the score with a run in the third. A Rebel run in the bottom of the third pushed the home team ahead, 2-1, before the Diamond Dawgs tallied nine runs in the fourth inning. UM wasn’t done, however, scoring one in the fourth and two in the eighth to inch closer, before State added one in the ninth to account for the final score of 11-5.
The nine-run fourth inning is the highest-scoring inning in an SEC game since the Diamond Dawgs tallied nine runs in the fourth inning of the second game in a doubleheader versus Alabama on April 12, 2017. It is the second-highest scoring inning this season for MSU, behind a 10-run frame versus ULM on April 3.
Senior Peyton Plumlee (5-3) gave the Diamond Dawgs his second-straight solid start with 7 2/3 innings of work to earn the victory. He allowed five runs – four earned – on seven hits. He walked two and struck out three, throwing a career-high 116 pitches in the game.
Freshman Brandon Smith recorded the final out of the eighth, before graduate student Cole Gordon fired a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts.
Offensively, sophomore Tanner Allen was on base four times, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk, a run scored and one RBI. Junior Dustin Skelton chipped in three hits, one run scored and one RBI, while Jake Mangum had a pair of hits, scored one run and drove in one RBI. Senior Marshall Gilbert posted MSU’s fifth multi-hit game of the afternoon with two hits, one RBI and three runs scored. Freshman Luke Hancock and sophomores Rowdey Jordan and Jordan Westburg drove in two RBIs each in the game.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis
On what he saw from Peyton Plumlee
“[Peyton] was really good today. The fastball was sinking and the changeup was good. He was able to get them to beat the ball into the ground a lot. When we make plays [behind him defensively], he’s really good.”
On the approach with two outs in the nine-run fourth inning
“We’ve [had a good two-out approach] for most of the year. If you’ve watched us enough, we’ve strung some hits together [with two outs]. We had the rally last night and the rally today. When we get hot like that, we have a lot of good hitters that can build [momentum] from each other’s at bats.”
One big inning by No. 5 Mississippi State was the difference as No. 11 Ole Miss fell 11-5 Sunday.
The contest went back-and-forth through the first three innings, but the Bulldogs put together a nine-run two-out rally in the top of the fourth inning to take control. MSU scored just two runs outside of that inning.
Gunnar Hoglund started the Rebels off with a quick one-two-three inning, retiring three straight Bulldogs on seven pitches, all strikes. Ole Miss carried that momentum into the bottom half, using a pair of two-out hits to take an early lead. Tyler Keenan singled through the right side, then Thomas Dillard ripped a triple deep into the right-center gap to make it 1-0, Rebels.
Elijah MacNamee started the second inning off with a double into the right field corner but was injured sliding into second base. He was replaced by Brad Cumbest, who was quickly retired when Justin Foscue hit a high chopper to Keenan at third. Keenan fielded and tossed to Adams for the tag out at second. The Bulldogs strung together a pair of hits to load the bases with one out, but Hoglund induced a pop-up for out No. 2, then Cooper Johnson pounced on a wild pitch and delivered to Hoglund at home for the third out.
MSU tied it up in the third after a leadoff walk by Marshall Gilbert and a Jake Mangum base hit. Gilbert came home on an RBI groundout by Jordan Westburg. A Tanner Allen single had the Bulldogs in position to score another with runners on the corners and one out, but Hoglund induced a 6-4-3 double play to escape the jam with the score tied at one.
The Rebels regained the lead in the bottom half following back-to-back one-out base hits by Anthony Servideo and Grae Kessinger. Kessinger's base hit extended his reached-base streak to 40 games, and the ensuing walk issued to Keenan loaded the bases for Dillard. Dillard crushed one to straightaway center field, but the breeze blowing in kept the ball in the yard. Still, the Rebels took a 2-1 lead on the sacrifice fly.
The Rebel lead didn't last long as Mississippi State strung together three straight two-out base hits to tie it back up. Zack Phillips then replaced Hoglund on the mound and walked in a pair of runs to give way to Max Cioffi. The Bulldogs then reeled off four straight hits to make it a nine-run inning and a 10-2 lead.
Ole Miss got one back in the bottom half. Kevin Graham singled and made his way to second on a throwing error, then to third on a Jacob Adams groundout. The Rebel first baseman came home when Servideo reached on a throwing error by MSU shortstop Jordan Westburg.
Austin Miller checked in out of the bullpen for the Rebels in the fifth and posted a much-needed three-up, three-down inning, though MSU's Plumlee countered with a one-two-three frame of his own.
The junior out of North Liberty, Iowa, gave up a single followed by a walk to start the sixth but worked his way through the jam with a flyout and back-to-back strikeouts. He retired the Bulldogs in order once again in the seventh to close a strong outing: 3.0 IP with no runs allowed on just one hit with one walk and four strikeouts.
Houston Roth entered in the eighth and allowed a pair of base hits but worked his way through the inning without allowing a run, much thanks to a terrific diving play in center by Servideo.
The Rebels strung together base hits by Johnson, Michael Fitzsimmons, Adams and Carl Gindl to bring home two runs and cut the MSU lead to five. Connor Green then took over on the hill for the Rebels. MSU manufactured one run off of Green to make it an 11-5 final.
Ole Miss will return to action Tuesday for its final non-conference game of the regular season at Arkansas State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.
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